Ramblings: The Week the World Changed

by Rich Klein

I am extremely grateful for everyone who reaches out and sends email after reading these stories. Last week, I received a very nice email from Bill Barron who used to work for NFL Properties and asked me to write about Lud Denny. Bill, eventually we’ll touch on Lud and his large impact on the world of football cards.

But for now, we’ll start by talking some more about Tom Reid, who has been mentioned as one of my hobby mentors. In his nearly four decades in the business, Tom saw just about every possible change. He also handled some nice material and some not so nice material. To him, with very few exceptions, cards and memorabilia were to be bought and sold and at the end of the day if there was a profit and some items left for him to retail, he was a happy man.

Sometimes, the idea of moving merchandise did not always pay off. Usually that is a great way to keep yourself in business but every once in a while, you end up selling something better than you realize. That happened to Tom back in the day with a card he sold to John Rumierez. You see that card had what is called a “Fan” back and as of this writing there are only two known cards as well as a photo copy of a Carson Bigbee card. Yes I expect more of these Fan cards to pop up; however for now the known live copies stand at two.

The way Tom did business works about 99 percent of the time, and when I received the sad call in September 2001 that Tom had passed away, I actually was planning to attend a wedding that Sunday and was hopeful I could make the funeral/wake. One of my regrets in life was not contacting American Airlines to switch flight times as a stand-by so I could attend. We were flying so much in those days that as a long-standing American frequent flier that such things could be done at no charge.

I did not think of calling AA so I just went to catch my flight that Friday. Having “gold” status had lots of advantages, not just the early seating on the plane but also the ability to carry two bags on board with plenty of room for your bags.  I could leave my apartment at 9 AM for an 11 AM flight and have enough time to spare to eat breakfast at the airport. Yes, travel was a bit different in early September 2001.

I get on the flight which turns out to be an uneventful flight to Newark Airport and when I get off the plane, I realize that I did not plan well enough for time to go the funeral/wake and instead just headed up to my dad’s home. The wedding I was attending was that of long-time dealer Ted Straka and there would be several of my Tri-State area collector/dealer friends there as well. The wedding and reception were very nice and so catching up with my friends. The location was at the Inn at Central Valley and I do remember how beautiful the view was and what a great place for such a wedding.

After the wedding, I had set up to return to Dallas on Tuesday evening because with that American Gold status, I could attend the “set-up” time at the then weekly Parsipanny, NJ show hosted by Mike Gordon and still have enough time to make my flight. I was hoping to see some more of my friends and pick up a few items at that show just before I headed back to Dallas.

On Tuesday, a beautiful morning, I remember taking my dad to the supermarket so he could get the rest of his necessities for the week. Dad was beginning to struggle but could still function on his own. I still remember driving back from the store and while on Outwater Lane in Garfield NJ, I heard either Harry Harrison or Dandy Dan Daniel of CBS-FM mention that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.

My first thought was about the Empire State Building incident of 1945 when a plane hit that building.

Quickly, the world realized what had just happened. The date of 9/11/01 would forever be etched in people’s memories. And as for me, after checking with some friends down in Dallas, I realized that afternoon I would have to begin the long drive back to the DFW area since planes were grounded. I had made that drive twice before.

Thursday afternoon about 4:30 PM I did arrive at the Beckett building, slightly the worse for wear physically and much worse for wear emotionally. Saturday, I received a phone message from Ted assuring me that he and his bride were fine. Unbeknownst to me, one of their honeymoon travel options was Flight 93 on Tuesday 9/11.   My dad had “The Fall” about six weeks later and never was able to function on his own after that without at least a care giver.  Everyone has a different memory of 9/11/01 and those are some of mine.

Next time we’ll return to happier thoughts.

Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]